The Atlantic

Trump’s NASA Administrator: ‘No Reason’ to Dismiss U.N. Climate Report

In a wide-ranging interview, Jim Bridenstine explains his plans for NASA, the nerve-racking Soyuz launch failure, and his views on climate change.
Source: Pavel Golovkin / AP / Thanh Do / The Atlantic

The crew, an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut, were only minutes into their flight when a red warning light started flashing and alarms began to blare. Within seconds, their small capsule fired its engines and began hurtling away, trying to put as much distance as possible between the crew and the rocket that was supposed to propel them into orbit but had instead malfunctioned. The 30-minute descent back to Earth violently shook the crew, subjecting them to the crushing pressure of nearly seven times the force of gravity. The capsule eventually parachuted safely to the ground, and the rescue teams collected the crew and reunited them with their families.

Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, was there when it happened, less than a mile away from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where the Russian Soyuz program launches astronauts from around the world into space. As the capsule came down, he thought about what he’d have to say if the landing ended in tragedy. “It was very emotional,” Bridenstine told me. “A very difficult day.”

Bridenstine has served as NASA administrator for nearly six months, and they have been quite eventful. Under the Trump administration, NASA put a renewed on returning Americans to the moon. The agency lofted several exciting missions into space, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, to around the brightest stars in the sky, and the Parker Solar Probe, to of our sun.

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